Is Selling Used Books Illegal?

The Christian Science Monitor explains the case…

Under scrutiny is the Copyright Act’s 1908 “first sale” doctrine, which provides that after a copyrighted good (like a book or CD) has been sold once, it can be resold for profit without the authorization of the copyright owner. At the crux of the matter (and what the Court is ruling on) is whether the “first sale” doctrine applies to any copyrighted work, regardless of where it was manufactured, or only those manufactured in the US.

If it rules that the “first sale” doctrine only applies to copyrighted goods manufactured in the US, it could render illegal the sale of used books, media, art, and other copyrighted works produced abroad. Which is why interested parties, from the Association of American Publishers to Goodwill to eBay, Powell’s Books, and the American Library Association are watching the case closely.

Where’d the case come from? A college student found he could get Thailand-made editions of textbooks shipped to him cheaper than buying in California, and began reselling them for a profit online.

Sign up for our free newsletter

Like this article? Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you a regular digest of our newest stories, full of money saving tips and advice, free! We'll also email you a PDF of Stacy Johnson's '205 Ways to Save Money' as soon as you've subscribed. It's full of great tips that'll help you save a ton of extra cash. It doesn't cost a dime, so why wait? Click here to sign up now.

The fast, free way to stay on top of your money.

If you’re not using online money management, it’s time to start.

Click here to find out more.

Money Talks News has teamed with PowerWallet for a free, confidential way to track your expenses, set budgets and goals, get bill reminders and earn free customized coupons.

Take a minute right now and check out PowerWallet. It's the simple way to get a handle on your money.

Comments & discussion

We welcome your opinions, but let’s keep it civil. Like many businesses, we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. In our case, that means those who communicate by name-calling, racism, using words designed to hurt others or generally acting like an uninformed bully. Also, comments that include links to email addresses or commercial websites typically aren't posted. This isn't a place to advertise your business.